Work­place com­edy de­light­ful movie of re­la­tion­ships

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By J ill Cluf f

The gen­er­a­tion gap is a real thing. All I have to do is start talk­ing about emo­jis or use tex­ting ab­bre­vi­a­tions, and I lose both my par­ents. At work, my hus­band even takes classes to help him learn to com­mu­ni­cate and work more ef­fec­tively with peo­ple from dif­fer­ing gen­er­a­tions.

He and I fall in to an in­ter­est­ing cat­e­gory: de­pend­ing on who you read, we could ei­ther be­long to Gen X or Mil­len­ni­als. We un­der­stand tech­nol­ogy, but we also weren’t in­tro­duced to it un­til col­lege. We still know how to write in cur­sive and don’t look at our phones ev­ery 12 sec­onds. We have friends who are sig­nif­i­cantly older and younger than us, and we like it that way.

But it seems not ev­ery­one is the same, which is why a movie like “The In­tern” is so timely. It delves head first into those deep-seated clichés about old and young and pro­ceeds to turn them on their head.

Robert DeNiro (at his dis­arm­ingly ba­nal best) plays Ben, a wid­owed re­tiree look­ing for an­other way to fill the hours. Anne Hath­away is Jules, the 30-some­thing brains be­hind a fast-grow­ing on­line cloth­ing line. One of her co-work­ers sug­gests that they of­fer a “se­nior in­tern­ship” as a PR move to show that their com­pany is both hip and re­spect­ful to their el­ders. When Ben shows up Mon­day morn­ing, not only does Jules not know who he is, but she deeply mis­trusts him.

Ben, ever the du­ti­ful worker bee, starts to find things to do – clean­ing off a desk here, run­ning num­bers there, of­fer­ing bits of hard-earned busi­ness wis­dom. Slowly, he be­gins to win her fa­vor, un­til he ul­ti­mately be­comes in­valu­able to her. That’s where the real story starts. Yes, there are the ex­pected scenes where she teaches him how to use Face­book and he teaches her a thing or twenty about how to run a busi­ness, but then it takes a sharp de­tour. Each of them starts to dis­cover that re­gard­less of their age, they are both strug­gling with the same thing – the des­per­ate need to achieve at work and feel needed at home.

This film was such a cheer­ing snap­shot of what is pos­si­ble when two rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent peo­ple can learn from each other. On the sur­face, it’s a hi­lar­i­ous work­place com­edy with on­the-nose hu­mor about the foibles of each gen­er­a­tion. What keeps you in your seat is the crack­ling chem­istry be­tween Hath­away and DeNiro. They clearly en­joyed each other and mak­ing this film. Their in­ter­changes are witty, ten­der and light­ning-quick.

Leave it to Nancy Mey­ers to trans­form a work­place com­edy into a com­men­tary on fem­i­nism and ag­ing. Her bril­liant script and deft di­rect­ing lend the film a cer­tain grav­i­tas that would have been lost in the hands of other di­rec­tors. Some­thing must be said as well for the wacky and wicked­ly­tal­ented band of sup­port­ing cast. Jules’ hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing as­sis­tant is price­less, as are the other in­terns that Ben has to work with ev­ery day.

I’m not sure I would have called my­self a DeNiro fan be­fore – he was an ac­tor from “my mother’s gen­er­a­tion.” But I see him in a to­tally dif­fer­ent light now, and it makes me want to go back and watch his other films.

One small step for a Mil­len­nial, one gi­ant leap for the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion?

Jill Cluff is a some­times li­brar­ian who is mar­ried to one gi­ant and mom to two boys. She loves all things book- and food-re­lated – of­ten at the same time.

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